“A dark cloud. That’s the only way I can explain it right now.

Every day, there’s a dark cloud that follows me around. Some days the sun shines a little more fiercely and pierces through the cloud, and I feel the warmth of the sun and it makes me feel alright. Content. Even hopeful. But other days the cloud is more intense, and everything feels grey in its shadow. Other days the cloud lets loose and dumps rain, with hurricane forces. On all those days, I’m smiling happily on the outside.

How? Why? I don’t know. I just know that regardless of the thoughts in my head, and the feelings in my heart, thinking that someone might find those things out is the most terrifying thing of all.”

 

That was the beginning of a verrry long email I sent to Brandon last December; the day I finally told him about my depression… after six years of being together. Sure, he knew it was something I struggled with in my past, but I never let him know that I was still struggling. Honestly, I think for a long time I convinced myself I wasn’t...

I've been avoiding this post for a long time. The stigma surrounding mental health and depression is one I didn't want to face. I still don't, really. But I also believe that the only way to break down the stigma is if we all drop our walls, get brutally honest, and own our story… So that's what I'm doing. Because if I can help even one person to not feel alone, it's worth it to me. This is National Suicide Prevention Week, and this is me telling you that if you ever feel alone, please reach out! You are not alone. And there is hope.   

I've briefly shared a bit of my story before; explaining the meaning of my first tattoo. But even then I remained vague, for fear of judgement. Hell, this is a conversation I haven't even had with most of my family, let alone publicly. But I'm tired of pretending, and feeling ashamed. Because it is nothing to be ashamed about, and nobody should have to hide or pretend they are anything except exactly who they are.

 

My name is Sara. I struggle with depression. It is a part of me. But it does not define me.

 

Depression. It feels like a dirty word in today's society. Everyone is so quick to judge. And we throw the word around so lightly. It's weighted down by the heaviest stigma, and so those suffering hide in silence. I know, I've been there.

This past year has been one of healing for me. I finally feel like I’m back to “normal” most days - whatever that is. I no longer wake up with the overwhelming suffocation of my depression, but it took a LOT of work to get here. A lot of soul searching, praying, and learning to love myself again. And this time I’m coming out of it smarter, and more prepared. Because this time, I know that there will very likely be a next time, and now I’m a little better equipped to recognize it and battle it. There are still hard days, and there always will be. But today I’m standing on the other side of my depression, and today I want to tell you that: HOPE IS REAL. HEALING IS POSSIBLE. AND IT IS ABSOLUTELY OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP. Don’t let the stigma surrounding mental health keep you silent. “Your voice is the single greatest weapon we have in this fight." So stop hiding in silence. Speak up. Share your story. Your story is important. YOU are important.

 

I’ll leave you with two excerpts from one of my favorite books, that I read far too many times to count this past year:

 

“More than anything, my wish for you is this: That when your awful darkest days come, you will know you’re not alone. Pain will tell you to keep quiet, but that’s a lie. Life is fragile and we all break in different ways. I hope you know that you can ask for help. Did you catch that? It is absolutely positively okay to ask for help. It simply means you’re human. Help is real and it is possible; people find it every day.

Many live alone on islands made of nightmares. May we live as boats and bridges sent through darkness, honest boats and bridges sent to find them. May we build those things, and may we also be them. And may we raise an honest hand on days we need them. And then, after help and rest and all the things our lives require, let’s keep going. There is still so much to feel and see and say.


 

“If you feel too much, there’s still a place for you here. If you feel too much, don’t go. If this world is too painful, stop and rest. It’s okay to stop and rest. If you need a break, it’s okay to say you need a break.

This life–it’s not a contest, not a race, not a performance, not a thing that you win. It’s okay to slow down. You are here for more than grades, more than a job, more than a promotion, more than keeping up, more than getting by. This life is not about status or opinion or appearance. You don’t have to fake it. You do not have to fake it. Other people feel this way too. If your heart is broken, it’s okay to say your heart is broken. If you feel stuck, it’s okay to say you feel stuck. If you can’t let go, it’s okay to say you can’t let go. You are not alone in these places. Other people feel how you feel. You are more than just your pain. You are more than wounds, more than drugs, more than death and silence. There is still some time to be surprised. There is still some time to ask for help. There is still some time to start again. There is still some time for love to find you. It’s not too late. You’re not alone. It’s okay–whatever you need and however long it takes–its okay. It’s okay. If you feel too much, there’s still a place for you here. If you feel too much, don’t go. There is still some time."

- Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For

***Read more from Jamie, Founder of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) HERE.


 

And if you need help, PLEASE REACH OUT: (Click Here!) Call a friend. Call a hotline (Call 1-800-273-TALK or text TWLOHA to 741741). Call me. Setup an appointment with a counselor. Just know that you are not in this alone. HOPE IS REAL. HEALING IS POSSIBLE. AND IT IS ABSOLUTELY OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP.

There is a lie that says we can’t talk about things like depression and suicide. If stigma is keeping you quiet right now, please fight it. Speak out. Share your story.

 

And to my fellow creatives: Did you know that one in three entrepreneurs struggle with depression? ONE. IN. THREE. Let that sink in for a moment. Are you that one in three? If yes, please know you are not alone. Please know that you are loved, you are valued, you are important. Hope is real. Healing is possible. And it is absolutely positively okay to ask for help. If no, please look around you. I promise someone you know is that one in three. Don’t let them struggle in silence. Reach out, speak up. Start those hard conversations. Remind them of the truths I just mentioned, and remind them that they are not alone.

 

It’s National Suicide Prevention Week. This is just a small piece of my story, and I'm challenging anyone else who's struggled with mental illness to share their story today too, or at least to speak up and remind people they're not alone.

 

I love you all so much, friends.

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